Two recent posts from my friends over on Opera have stirred up mixed emotions and thoughts. This World War II-era poster (posted by Wicked Lizard) captures my feelings exactly. In fact, I've even been working on a new weekly feature about buying less and clearing out clutter. Certainly, the "reduce" part of the "reduce, reuse, recycle" equation is better for the planet. And I'm ashamed when I read in this article that "the average American consumes about fifty-three times more goods and services than someone from China." Alas, the entire Western world, and China itself, are quickly catching up.
But my friend Richard points out that when consumers stop buying products, the people who make, package, ship, and sell those products suffer. Factories turn off their machines, businesses close, jobs are lost, people go hungry. In his post he shares an email he received from a record company practically begging people to buy CDs to keep the economy rolling. Buy a CD, they plead, and keep us in business.
They have a point: According to this article in the Christian Science Monitor, consumer spending has dropped to levels not seen since 1942, (the era of that white elephant poster.) "When necessity or worry causes most consumers to save money at the same time, it causes a problem known among economists as the 'paradox of thrift.' Consumers are acting rationally to safeguard their financial health in a recession, but their collective action may hurt everyone by shrinking the economy even more."
So what's a responsible world citizen to do? Please share your thoughts. How are you responding to the paradoxical crises affecting our world?